By Lisa Kava
On the national level, it’s hard to avoid politics. But at the local level, it’s often a struggle to get people to pay attention. That was on full display last week.
Last Wednesday, members of the organization Indivisible We Stand handed out flyers at several subway stations on the Upper West Side. Starting at 72nd street and continuing north to Morningside Heights, the group’s effort was to educate the public about the Independent Democratic Conference a faction of Democratic New York State Senators who have allied themselves with Senate Republicans, giving the GOP control over the Senate and making it much harder to pass progressive legislation. The Conference, commonly referred to as the IDC, was formed in 2010.
It seems that many Upper West Siders are unfamiliar with the IDC. Andrea Flink (shown in the photo at left), is the organizer of Indivisible We Stand, and she handed flyers out with Deborah Glasofer (shown below) at the 79th Street station. Much of her work involved education: out of the 200 people she handed flyers to, only four had even heard of the IDC, she said. At the 72nd Street Station where people seemed to be in more of a rush, most ignored Diane Englander and Jan Kliger, two members of Indivisible We Stand who were both handing out flyers. A small handful of people took flyers and walked off quickly. Jan spoke to about 10 people who took flyers and none of them had ever heard of the IDC.
Indivisible We Stand has joined forces with the Uptown Coalition, a larger group, formed early this summer, to coordinate the efforts of activist groups to disband the IDC (The Uptown Coalition was handing out flyers at stations from 86th to 225th). Diane and Andrea explained that there are eight New York State Senators who are part of the IDC. Andrea stated “Most New Yorkers think that since we live in one of the bluest states in the country, our state government is controlled by Democrats. That is not true. Even though Democrats technically hold a majority in the Senate, because of the 8 IDC members and another ‘Democrat’, Simcha Felder, Republicans control the NY Senate. Democrats in NY can’t even get most progressive legislation to the floor for a vote.”
When asked why she decided to join the activities of the group Indivisible We Stand, Diane replied “After the inauguration, I wanted very much to be part of a group effort to resist Trump and his regressive policies. I learned about the Indivisible Guide, and soon after indivisible groups began to spring up all over the country. There was a map on-line with existing groups pinned to it, and that is how I found Indivisible We Stand. We work on specific initiatives together such as the campaign against the IDC, but in addition we regularly share news about other actions, knowing we can find willing supporters within our group.”
The indivisible group movement refers to a number of groups that were formed after the January 2017 election. There are now over 7,000 individual groups in the country. The groups are federally focused and each has their own specific goals. The goal of Indivisible We Stand is twofold: 1) flip control of the House and the Senate in 2018 and 2) disband the IDC. Last spring, the Indivisible We Stand group organized a rally in front of State Senator Marisol Alcantara’s office. Alcantara, whose district stretches from the Upper West Side to Washington Heights, is a member of the IDC.
Michael Carter, a spokesperson for Senator Alcantara said “Senator Marisol Alcántara is proud of her achievements, including raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18, securing $10 million to protect immigrants, and passing legislation to help women and minority owned businesses in New York City. She will continue to build on that progressive record.”
Andrea Flink says Indivisible We Stand will continue their efforts to educate all voters about the IDC. One woman who took a flyer from Diane at the 72nd Street subway station and spoke to Diane for some time was unfamiliar with the IDC but said most important to her is “world peace right now” and “ health care for all.” She wished to remain anonymous.
We wrote more about the IDC here.